What trends will affect the legal profession in the coming years?
As a lawyer and business owner, chances are that you have a lot on your mind. In particular, the events of the last few years have required more innovation and thinking outside the box than at most other times in recent memory. To suddenly go from having most employees in the office all day, to everyone being forced to work from home was quite a shock to most industries. Additionally, the stresses of trying to keep client information confidential while also complying with distancing regulations because they cause a lot of concern in the legal profession.
In part because of these restrictions, secure software for law offices has become very well-developed. At the same time, other changes, like the rise of e-discovery, have made law office automation more important than ever. For many firms, the search for the best law firm practice management software is far from over.
As important as automation-related changes are, there are other trends affecting the legal profession that managing partners must consider. Let’s take a look at changes in the industry that will continue to affect law firms in the near future.
More competition for top talent
Despite all the jokes about there being too many lawyers, many law firms are struggling to hire and retain employees. This is true in terms of staff attorneys and the support professionals that make every firm run smoothly. Secretaries, paralegals, and even computer professionals increasingly demand more worker-friendly policies, better pay, and more appreciation on the job.
If the pandemic taught us nothing else, it’s that the days of employees working long hours in the office and never feeling appreciated are likely over. Nowadays, people need to feel good about their job because their employers and coworkers create a positive working environment.
This is one reason why in-house legal software can be so important. Not only does automation help reduce the amount of work that’s done by hand, but it also fosters collaboration while minimizing busy work.
Increased demand for services
Unfortunately for law firms, persistent staffing shortages are exacerbated by a trend towards companies consuming more legal services. While many companies are bringing much of their legal work in-house, small businesses and individuals will continue to need the full range of legal services from a law firm. Additionally, almost every company will need outside legal help at some point because their internal department cannot handle everything.
How can law firms cope with this increasingly demanding environment? One of the best ways is through enterprise legal software management. In other words, companies that have an adequate software suite that helps staff work smarter and better will have a competitive advantage. Not only does software reduce costs, but it also allows staff to focus on more complex tasks. This way, law firms can provide more legal services with the same number of employees.
Better client experiences
Until the pandemic, it was generally believed that a meeting with a lawyer would be in person. While phone calls and emails were already used, significant discussions and client consultations would usually happen in person. However, during the pandemic, we learned that not only can virtual consultations be useful, but many clients enjoy the convenience. Additionally, attorneys may be more productive on a workday that doesn’t involve driving around town.
To that end, one of the major trends in the legal profession is a better focus on clients. We can expect this both in terms of more virtual appointments and also through the electronic document processing that saves everybody time and money.
Back in the days of paper filing cabinets with client records and pleadings, the only way that criminals could access confidential information was by entering a law office or storage facility. Unfortunately, those days are also long gone. Now, we must be mindful of law firms' cybersecurity best practices. Not only is this important because of attorney-client privilege, but cyber attacks have become more of a problem globally. In fact, two large American law firms became victims of security breaches this year.
Naturally, this trend requires an adequate response. Not only must law firms invest in intrusion prevention, but they must also ensure that in-house legal software is compliant with data protection regulations. File Sharing applications are especially vulnerable to outside attacks, which is why you need specialized software like CoraLegal. With CoraLegal, you can share files securely among partners, paralegals, notaries, and clients.
More shared tasks
Finally, collaboration will be more important than ever. While legal firms have long depended on paralegals and secretaries who share the workload, the modern law firm will be much more collaborative. In particular, the rise of AI and other software tools will reduce the amount of work that requires attorney attention. Additionally, the need for client signatures, notarized documents, and other external document processing will require the best law firm practice management software to manage.
Fortunately, these tools also make it easier for employees to work remotely with minimal risk to client data so long as law firms' cybersecurity best practices are followed.
Taken together, we find that the trends affecting the legal profession point toward a more positive experience for everyone, including attorneys, staff, and clients. We can meet most of these trends with the right software, from secure email to legal project management software. Over time, we will find that cutting-edge technologies will reduce the amount of busy work for everyone involved and improve worker conditions.
Fortunately, CoraLegal can help. Our suite of collaboration and file management tools helps you navigate the new virtual office. The software does this by facilitating file storage, annotations, client signatures, and notary services. It also helps with file searching and other tasks that make the whole team’s life easier.
Not convinced that CoraLegal is the best law firm practice management software? Our team can give you a one-on-one demonstration of this powerful tool. We also offer new users 30 days for free, so you can try before you buy.